Natural vision and the role of eye movements

Our understanding of how the brain processes visual stimuli is confounded by the complexity of the natural visual world, combined with the intricate neuronal processing that occurs within and across multiple cortical areas. However, the complex spatiotemporal visual patterns that exist outside of simple laboratory settings are what our visual system has been "designed" to understand. As a result, we expect that a large fraction of the rich array of physiological mechanisms and circuity from the retina through LGN and multiple levels of cortical processing might be only understood in appropriately natural stimulus contexts.

A key feature of visual processing is the fact that a large amount of the temporal patterning of images on the retina are the result of eye movements. Eye movements have a profound effect on spatiotemporal processing early in the visual system, and evoke strong patterns of population activity in the cortex.

Eye movements

  • McFarland JM, Cumming BG, Butts DA (2016) Variability and correlations in primary visual cortical neurons driven by fixational eye movements. Journal of Neuroscience 36: 6225-41. [Journal website]
  • McFarland JM, Bondy AG, Saunders R, Cumming BG*, Butts DA* (2015) Saccadic modulation of stimulus processing in primary visual cortex. Nature Communications 6: 8110. [Full text]
  • McFarland JM, Bondy AG, Cumming BG, Butts DA (2014) High-resolution eye tracking using V1 neuron activity. Nature Communications 5: 4605. [Online] [Code]

Natural and naturalistic stimuli

  • Cui Y, Liu L, Khawaja FA, Pack CC, Butts DA (2013) Diverse suppressive influences in area MT and selectivity to complex motion features. Journal of Neuroscience 33: 16715-28. [PDF]
  • Schinkel-Bielefeld N, David SV, Shamma SA, Butts DA (2012) Inferring the role of inhibition in auditory processing of complex natural stimuli. Journal of Neurophysiology 107: 3296. [PDF]
  • Mineault PJ*, Khawaja FA*, Butts DA, Pack CC (2012) Hierarchical processing of complex motion along the primate dorsal visual pathway. PNAS 109: E972.
  • Butts DA, Desbordes G, Weng C, Jin JZ, Alonso JM, Stanley GB (2010) The episodic nature of spike trains in the early visual pathway. Journal of Neurophysiology 104: 3371-87. [PDF]
  • Butts DA, Weng C, Jin JZ, Yeh CI, Lesica NA, Alonso JM, Stanley GB (2007) Temporal precision in the neural code and the time scales of natural vision. Nature 449: 92-5. [PDF, Sup1]

Visual processing in foveal V1

  • See above: McFarland et al. (Nat. Comm., 2014)